Clevedon Pier £1.5m visitor centre receives funding boost

Artist's impression of the new visitor centre at Clevedon Pier A combination of grants and fundraising will pay for the development which includes much-needed toilets

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Clevedon Pier is a step closer to getting a new £1.5m visitor centre after a national organisation backed a local appeal for funding.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has passed it through stage one of its funding application, which would provide half the cost if successful.

The futuristic glass structure was given planning permission by North Somerset Council in April 2011.

Facilities include a cafe, toilets, and a small meeting and education space.

"It's been very carefully designed so that it blends in with the rest of the pier, rather than being a very heavy structure," said Linda Strong, pier manager.

"The top part will be glass and two-thirds of the structure will actually be under the pier."

The HLF bid would provide £675,000 of the project's total cost, with the rest made up from local councils, and donations from charitable trusts and the public.

Building work is due to start in the spring.

'Challenging market'

"We've submitted our fairly detailed plan and they [HLF] like what they see," said Simon Talbot-Ponsonby, chair of the trustees for Clevedon Pier.

Side view of the Clevedon Pier development Some of the new facilities will be housed beneath the rock face

"They've given us a grant of about £25,000 already to develop our plans further to take it to round two [and] that is the real competition.

"It's particularly difficult in the challenging market we're in at the moment but we're confident that we'll get there, we've just got to work hard at it."

Every 10 to 15 years, the Victorian pier undergoes long-term maintenance and repainting which now costs over £1m.

North Somerset Council so far continues to meet the balance of costs but it is hoped the new visitor centre will generate enough money so it can pay for itself in the future.

Clevedon Pier is the only Grade I-listed pier in the country to remain intact and in regular use.

Over 80,000 people visit every year, plus 4,000 further visitors who arrive on pleasure ships such as the Waverley and the Balmoral.

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